An Emporia soybean processing plant will temporarily lay off some of its employees because the ongoing drought has reduced the soybean crop in Kansas, a company spokeswoman said.
Officials with the Bunge plant announced Tuesday that crush operations at the plant will be suspended, effective May 1. The crush operations are expected to resume with the fall harvest, The Emporia Gazette reported (http://bit.ly/10d9kjW ).
"The U.S. soybean supplies are tight due to the drought, particularly in the Kansas region, and so the processing industry has excess crush capacity and it is also because of a strong export demand in Asia that depleted supplies," said Heather Rueschhoff, a company spokeswoman.
The remaining employees at the plant will work reduced hours doing maintenance and other projects, Rueschhoff said.
City Manager Matt Zimmerman told the Emporia City Council in an email that he was told by Tom Schmidt, regional manager for Bunge, that about 21 employees will be laid off.
"He said this is the first factory where they are closing operations temporarily and it is due to a lack of crop in Kansas because of the drought," Zimmerman said. "If the drought continues and there is a much smaller crop than anticipated, they may not reopen the plant in the fall. Let's all hope and pray for rain."
The plant has about 66 full-time employees, Rueschhoff said.